Consensus is an essential ingredient of a fault-tolerant distributed system systems. When equipped with a consensus algorithm a distributed system can act as a replicated state machine (RSM), duplicating its state across a cluster of redundant components to avoid the failure of any single component leading to a system-wide failure.

Paxos and Raft are examples of algorithms for achieving distributed consensus. Practical implementations of this kind of system must support dynamic reconfiguration in order to be able to replace failed components and perform other administrative tasks without downtime.

Paxos can achieve high performance by pipelining (starting work on new requests before existing requests have completed) but typically bounds the length of the pipeline to ensure consistency during reconfiguration. Raft also supports pipelining and imposes no such bound on concurrent requests, preserving consistency instead by restricting which reconfigurations may be performed.

This article shows how to extend Paxos to support a more general form of reconfiguration which subsumes the original bounded-pipeline approach as well as Raft-like fully-concurrent reconfigurations and more besides.


Further Reading

Reader simbo1905 coined the name UPaxos for this protocol and wrote some nice followup articles: